TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Behind a strong pitching performance from junior John Gast, fifth-ranked Florida State (3-0) completed the series sweep of Georgia State with a 12-2 victory Sunday afternoon on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium. With the three-game sweep, the Seminoles extended their streak of season opening series victories to 29 straight, while remaining undefeated (20-0) all-time against the Panthers at home.
"It was a good opening weekend for us," said head coach Mike Martin. "It was exciting to get this season started. The young men are excited; they know there is a lot of baseball in store for them the next couple of months."
Gast (1-0) was the story on Sunday afternoon as the crafty southpaw threw a career-high 6.0 innings in earning his first victory of the season. The Longwood, Fla., native faced the minimum through the first 3.1 innings before giving up a base hit back up the middle to pinch hitter Ryan Fleming with one out in the fourth. The hit did not phase Gast as two pitches later he forced Jonathan Kolowich into an inning ending groundball double play.
"It felt good," said Gast. "It was exciting to finally get out there. I felt good and was in the strike zone a lot. That is what really held me just being able to get in the strike zone and let them put the ball in play and let the guys behind me make all the plays."
Gast allowed just two runs on four hits as he struck out five and did not issue a walk. He faced the minimum in all but one inning on Sunday and was very efficient with his pitches leaving the game after the sixth inning throwing only 71 pitches, 50 for strikes.
"That was the main focus this offseason," added Gast on being so efficient on Sunday. "Limiting the amount of pitches can really help you go deep in the game; hopefully I can continue to limit the number of pitches in each of my outings."
"I know I saw the best outing I have seen from Johnny Gast in the three years he's been here," said a very pleased Martin. "That was electric stuff. It was as close to dominating as I can say."
"I'm very proud of him, but I am not getting excited," said Martin. "This is February the 21st. I will get excited when he continues to go out and prove that he can throw the ball like that every time he goes out there."
In his first collegiate debut, Robert Benincasa threw two scoreless innings allowing a hit and a walk while striking out three. Andrew Durden pitched a perfect ninth for his first appearance as a Seminole.
"Benny is a guy we have been very impressed with," added Martin. "I am excited for him, he is going to be in the mix if he continues to stay poised and focused and gets out there and get better. I like this young man's stuff."
For the eighth time in the series, Florida State reached double-digit runs against Georgia State and finished the series outscoring the Panthers 37-12.
"When the offense is working like that, it's a great feeling," said junior catcher Rafael Lopez. "It helps to relax the pitching staff and knock off the pressure. Hopefully we can do that every weekend; it was real nice to have that run support."
Sophomore Sherman Johnson paced the Seminole offense on Sunday as he recorded a career-high three hits on two doubles and a single.
Sophomore James Ramsey tied a school record with two triples in the series finale becoming just the sixth player in school history to perform such a feat. Ramsey also finished the game with a career-high three RBI. His first triple came in the first, with his second coming in the fifth with the bases loaded and two outs. The Alpharetta, Ga., native scorched a line drive over the head of Panther center fielder Mark Micowski to clear the bases and to give FSU a commanding 11-2 advantage.
Making his first collegiate start, freshman Justin Gonzalez went 2-for-3 with two RBI and three runs scored as he got the nod at second base. The Miami, Fla., native hit a two-run shot off the scoreboard in left center in the fourth, drew a two out walk in the fifth and tripled in the seventh.
Rafael Lopez had his multi-hit game of the season with a single and a double on Sunday. The junior catcher led off the bottom of the fourth with a single to right and followed with a two out, two-run double down the line in left in the fifth.
Stuart Tapley, starting as the Seminole designated hitter in the series finale, got the offense going on Sunday as he led off the bottom of the second with a towering solo shot to straight away center field for his first home run of the season. Tapley finished the game 1-for-3 with two RBI.
The Seminoles return to the diamond on Wednesday, February 24 at 4:00 p.m., as Florida State welcomes the North Florida Ospreys to Tallahassee. Fans can listen in locally on 1270 the Team and 94.3 FM and on the web on Seminoles.com. Junior right hander Mike McGee will get the start on Wednesday against the Ospreys.
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